Good Friends Are Shelters In Grief’s Storm

If you’ve never been caught short in the midst of an unexpected downpour you might not know how important refuge under the boughs of a cedar or oak tree can be.

Living in the middle of woods, punctuated by open pastures, I’ve retreated more than once to the safety of thick boughs which limit the rain’s ability to soak me through.

I have memorized every safe haven between the road and the middle of my 34 acres.

Faithful friends are like those sheltering trees-offering respite to a weary heart, providing a safe space to take a breath, granting protection when we are pursued by the enemy of our souls.

Read the rest here: We All Need Sheltering Trees

I’ve Learned SO Much From Other Bereaved Parents

There’s a kind of relational magic that happens when people who have experienced the same or similar struggle get together.  

In an instant, their hearts are bound in mutual understanding as they look one to another and say, “Me too. I thought I was the only one.”

It was well into the second year after Dominic ran ahead to heaven that I found an online bereaved parent support group.  After bearing this burden alone for so many months, it took awhile before I could open my heart to strangers and share more than the outline of my story.

But, oh, when I did! What relief!  What beautiful support and affirmation that every. single. thing. that was happening to me and that I was feeling was normal!

Read the rest here: What I’m Learning From Other Bereaved Parents

Receiving and Extending Grace

Truth is, beyond my single vote or my social media post or a letter (remember those!) I might write to an elected official or the editor of a local paper, I don’t have much influence in the larger world.

But I can absolutely make my family, my place of worship and my community a safe space for reasonable people to share opinions, seek solutions and save the best parts of what makes us human.

There’s not a lot I can add to this post from last year-it’s all about giving and receiving grace.

It’s about refusing to label, categorize, dehumanize, point fingers and standing steadfast for long held ideas without considering new information and new insights.

We’ve got to do better, y’all.

We have to.

There is so much going on right now in our country and our world that hurts my heart.

I could get on my soapbox and pontificate about what policies should be or what politicians should do but my tiny voice wouldn’t make a difference on the grander stage.

My world is pretty small in comparison to social influencers and the ones who want to be.

BBC Radio - The English We Speak, It's a small world

Even still, what I do and what I say each day matters.

Read the rest here: Extending And Receiving Grace

Holy Week 2022: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more.
On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall.

Death is, in fact, what some modern people call “ambivalent.” It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.

~C.S. Lewis,  Miracles

Bury a child and suddenly the death of Christ becomes oh, so personal. 

The image of Mary at the foot of the cross is too hard to bear.

Read the rest here:  Remember: Why Good Friday Matters as Much as Resurrection Sunday

Lenten Reflections: Fasting Criticism, Making Space for Grace

Chole identifies several groups that were in proximity to Jesus as He was dying on the cross.

Perhaps two people were silenced by grief or gently sobbing.

The others were taunting Him, mocking Him and reveling in His [apparent] inability to save Himself or be rescued by the Father He claimed close connection to.

They had no idea that His death was a last act of willing submission and laying aside of His power, position and possible retribution against those who had put Him there.

Love held Him to the cross-not nails or impotence.

So today I fast criticism.

I will fast judging others based on half-truths or even whole ones that cast them into a role other than as an image-bearer of our God.

Every single person I meet is bearing up under some kind of burden. Every face I see has an untold story behind the smile, frown, scowl or tears.

And every single human being is known and loved by the God who made them and the Savior who died to redeem them.

Today, fast criticism. From the clerk moving slowly to the homeless vet on the streets, consider carefully that Jesus knows them by name. Today, seek to know more, assume less, and air prayers for Jesus’ ‘least of these’ boldly in the presence of your shared Father God.

Alicia Britt Chole

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience. **

Today Is The Second Best Time to Make Amends (or Plant a Tree).

Life is really rather unforgiving, isn’t it?

I can only live forward and there are no do-overs.

No amount of regret can roll back the clock and give me another chance to do it right, do it better or just do it at all.

Read the rest here: The Best Time To Plant A Tree

I Can Be Fierce Without Being Fractious

It’s funny how child loss has, at the same time, made me more yielding and more steadfast.

I give in without a moment’s hesitation to other people’s choice in where to go for lunch, what to do for birthdays, how to arrange this or that at church.  My brain simply doesn’t have the capacity any more to argue over trifles.

But I will stand up to a lion for the sake of love or to protect a hurting heart.

Read the rest here: How To Be Fierce Without Being Fractious

God Will ABSOLUTELY Give You More Than You Can Handle

I’m passionate about getting Scripture right.

Because it’s not just unfortunate when we get it wrong, it can be downright dangerous.

The phrase “God will not give you more than you can handle” is simply not in the Bible and we need to stop tossing it at hurting hearts as if it is.

You know, I don’t expect those outside the Body of Christ to have good theology-that’s like expecting me to be able to explain thermodynamics.  

Ain’t gonna happen-it’s outside my scope of understanding and practice.

I do expect those who have spent a lifetime reading Scripture, studying Sunday School lessons and listening to sermons to know better.

But many don’t.

Read the rest here:  Exploding the Myth: God Doesn’t Give You More Than You Can Handle

There Ought to Be a T-Shirt

I think there ought to be a t-shirt, pin or banner that gives some kind of warning for those of us walking around with broken hearts and broken lives.

But there isn’t.

Except for the first shell-shocked days immediately following Dominic’s death, I look pretty much the same as I always have.

Most of us do.

Read the rest here: Broken Legs, Broken Hearts, Broken Lives

Grief: Gifts of Grace

It was a long time before I wanted to believe that I received any gifts worth keeping from this life I didn’t choose.

I knew I had tears, pain, agonizing sorrow, loss, heartache, dashed hopes, empty arms.

If I could give those back and regain my son, I would do it in less than a heartbeat.

I can’t, so I’m left here to ponder what else I’ve received from burying a child.

And I am learning that I have been given some gifts I truly cherish, although the price was higher than I would have willingly paid.

Read the rest here: Grace Gifts of Grief

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